Delhi riots: HC quashes four of five FIRs lodged against same 'offence'
The high court said there cannot be a second FIR and fresh investigation for the same cognisable offence as it was contrary to laws laid down by the Supreme Court.
The Delhi high court on Thursday quashed four of the five first information reports (FIRs) filed in a case of alleged offences of looting and setting on fire a compound during the riots in February last year.
The court said there cannot be a second FIR and fresh investigation for the same cognisable offence as it was contrary to laws laid down by the Supreme Court.
Recently, a sessions court said the standard of investigation in a large number of matters pertaining to the February 2020 violence had been “very poor” and that police officers did not bring investigations to a logical conclusion after filing “half-baked” charge sheets.
The high court quashed four FIRs, while maintaining one lodged by the Delhi Police against the same accused in March last year at Jaffrabad Police Station and all the proceedings emanating therefrom.
“It cannot be said that the incidents were separate or the offences are different. As stated earlier, a perusal of the charge sheets filed in the respective FIRs show that they are more or less identical and the accused are also same. However, if there is any material that has been found against the accused the same can be placed on record in the FIR,” Justice Subramonium Prasad said.
The court’s order came while allowing four petitions filed by accused Atir, facing prosecution in five FIRs registered on complaints received from different members of the same family stating when they reached their home in the Maujpur area on the evening of February 24, they saw their house was set ablaze which caused a loss of articles worth ₹7-10 lakh.
Advocate Tara Narula, representing Atir, said all the FIRs were in respect of the same dwelling unit and had been filed by different family members and even the same fire-brigade truck had come to extinguish the inferno.
She further said the consecutive FIRs could not have been filed for the same offence and it was directly against the laid down principles of the apex court that stated more than one FIR cannot be registered for one offence.
Delhi Police claimed that the properties were distinct and the damage suffered individually by the residents and the subject matter of each FIR was different from others.
The court said all the five FIRs were identical in their content and more or less a facsimile of one another and pertain to the same occurrence.
It said they all pertain to one house where fire was started mischievously and spread to immediate neighbouring premises as well as floors of the same house and noted that one of the complainant had stated that the premises was his ancestral property and had been divided into four portions pursuant to a family arrangement.
“The law on the subject has been settled keeping in line with the principles enunciated by the Supreme Court of India. There can be no second FIR and no fresh investigation in respect of the same cognisable offence or same occurrence giving rise to one or more cognizable offences,” it said.
It added that the places which were set on fire and looted were all in the same compound and enclosed in one boundary wall and there might be discrepancy regarding the width of the passage within the same compound or the exact place where the fire was set but both the counsel for police and accused agreed that it was within one compound.
“The entire incident occurred when the mob entered the compound and set fire at different places within the same compound. Same truck… came to the spot to douse the fire. It, therefore, cannot be said that there are five separate incidents and, therefore, five separate FIRs cannot be registered for the very same incident as it is contrary to the laws laid down by the Supreme Court,” the high court said.
Communal clashes had broken out in northeast Delhi on February 24 after violence between citizenship law supporters and protesters spiralled out of control leaving at least 53 people dead and around 700 injured.
By hindustantimes.com, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON SEP 02, 2021 02:59 PM IST